No matter what point you’re at during an NHL season, you’ll tend to hear plenty of opinions regarding which teams are overrated or underrated.
Analytics are useful in sussing this stuff out – eye tests less so. One reason I like to look at sports betting markets for this kind of thing is that, to a certain extent, they are quantifying fans and bookmakers’ opinions of teams’ abilities. Lines move around as teams go through ups and downs or sustain injuries, and you can start to get a sense of which teams have under or over-performed relative to those opinions.
HockeyMarkets.com team ROI is a measure of how overrated or underrated an NHL team is relative to market expectations. Using sportsbook lines and theoretical betting units of $100, team ROI shows the average per-game return for each squad. Teams that have a negative number are underperforming, teams that have a positive number are exceeding expectations, and teams floating around the $0 mark are about where we thought they’d be.
Some of these are going to make sense and others are going to seem counter-intuitive, because we’re talking about some really bad teams here. The point isn’t to determine which teams met poor expectations, it’s to determine where teams are based on relative expectations. OK? So let’s get to the five most overrated teams.
Why are you still paying retail prices for sports and concert tickets like a sucker? Try SeatGeek first to find the best tickets at the best possible prices with their awesome ranking system. Find out more here.
No. 1: Nashville Predators
TEAM ROI: -$44.21
The Nashville Predators have been off to an, ahem, uneven start this season, and that’s reflected here. Prior to last night’s game, only the Vegas Golden Knights had performed worse relative to market lines, and the Nevada squad’s win over these Predators pushed them all the way to the bottom of our ranking through Wednesday’s games.
So what exactly is going on here? With the addition of Matt Duchene during the offseason and a long history of finishing at or near the top of the Central Division, the Predators find themselves outside the playoff picture (though only two points back of the aforementioned Knights with a few games in hand).
They are fifth in the league in 5v5 Corsi, and second in all situations, while posting the ninth-highest goals-for rate.
Well, as is typically the custom in situations where teams vastly underperform their expectations, the goaltending has fallen off a cliff this season.
Pekka Rinne, he of the lifetime .918 save percentage, is way below average, and backup Juuse Saros hasn’t been much better.
This is all a little bit frightening if you’re the Predators, who by all accounts should be a playoff team. They continue to have a solid D corps and they have enough talent up front to make a run, but even the best teams are usually sunk by weakness at the most important position. The hope in Nashville has to be that this is a mini-slump for Rinne. Just don’t show anyone his birth certificate. Goalies tend to drop precipitously as they get deeper into their 30s, and Rinne is nearing the end of that decade. In all likelihood, the Predators will need some kind of a bounce-back from 24-year-old Saros, who’s been a .917 guy so far in his career.
For all the consternation about the offensive mix and the not-totally-unexpected disappearance of Kyle Turris, the real problem for the Predators lies in goal.